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Developing future talent at Mindshare

As digital has evolved, so has the recruitment process and candidates' outlook on how their careers should develop. Training, flexibility and support will all play their part in attracting, honing and retaining the best and brightest.

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Case study: James Chandler, head of mobile, Mindshare

I did a degree in performance studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, before moving to London to work at Channel 4. Lots of my classmates went on to be stars of the stage and screen, but my degree was more about social and behavioural performance, rather than dramatic art.

I quickly discovered that media is all about communication and relationships – so could apply everything I’d studied at university to my job at Mindshare.

I joined Mindshare as a digital account executive in 2008, and within six months, I was taken away from my day-to-day duties to take part in MFactor, Mindshare’s week-long pitch-training programme. It’s open to new-starters who have worked in the industry for less than two years, and starts with a brief on Monday morning (where you’re split up into groups of five) and ends with a full-blown pitch on Friday to the leadership team.

The teams are given a mentor within the business and are left to map out their week, culminating in the pitch. My team won with a revolutionary idea about re-inventing the traditional gig-going user journey for Live Nation. Since taking part, I’ve been involved in organising MFactor every six months.

In 2009 I was promoted to account manager and nominated to become one of 10 Future Leaders. It was the scheme’s inaugural year, but the development plan was incredible. Everything from sessions on self-awareness, leadership and training from London Business School to personality profiling, commercial awareness and a two-day practical workshop with RADA.

On top of this, we were involved in live new-business briefs and had regular meetings with a mentor hand-picked from Mindshare’s leadership team.As part of working on 3 and Lynx, I began to specialise in mobile and within three years, I’d become Mindshare UK’s first head of mobile, taking responsibility for its growth across the business.

Mindshare has been instrumental in helping me develop my career, from funding business trips to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to PR opportunities talking about the wider industry with the likes of BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 News.

The digital landscape has evolved so much over the past few years that, as a result, the skills we now require have broadened.

I believe the key challenge we face is a greater complex­ity in the skills we are looking for. There is no longer a single handful of skill-sets. We now look for a diverse range of skills that fits into different parts of the mix including cultural and behavioural skills.

There are now different entry points to an organis­ation, so these are no longer limited to academic back­grounds. Apprentice­ships are, therefore, becoming more popular.

The speed and way in which we communicate has also transformed, due to technology. We need people who are used to that pace, and attitudes that are different. 

We are also attracting several new recruits across all levels of the organisation who have joined us from non-agency backgrounds. Some have come with a marketing/client-side background, while others have previously worked in the creative and social industries. 

Developing talent

Talent now moves more fluidly, and Millennials’ desire to stay in the same place and approach
to long-term career-planning differs from previous generations.

In the past we would have viewed a candidate who had moved jobs several times over a period of years as a negative. We are now viewing CVs very differently. Short tenures in roles can signify an active choice that has been made by an individual who has perhaps reached the ceiling and not broken through.

Serving time and getting their feet under the table is less important. We are now measuring capability and output rather than time in the seat. 

There are new expec­tations, and while we are wrestling with the old worldview and the new worldview, we should shape career development accordingly.

According to ‘The Future Workplace Multiple Generations at Work Survey’, 91% of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years.

They don’t want to wait; they want to start learning and be challenged and involved from day one.  
With this in mind we should look to shorter cycles and surfacing opportunities six months into a new role. We should also offer a bespoke range of training options and, if part of a wider network, both national and international opportunities could be included in that plan. These opportunities should also be discussed and shared with the view to developing careers and experience.

Giving people the support and opportunities to do this is important. By using interns and apprentices as a support layer to graduates, it allows us to free up their time and skills to devote to key projects.

Retaining talent

We see the important relationship between retaining top talent and the growth of the business and believe continuity will strengthen our relationships with clients. We recognise that employees want to enjoy and experience different aspects of life as this supports their wellbeing.

Work is one part of their lives, but it is important that they have the time for other interests. Offering the support and opportunity to pursue self-development, for example by giving the time or financial backing for something they really want to do outside work, can be invaluable.

We have seen a number of our employees either transfer or spend a secondment client-side. We look to our clients and suppliers for these potential secondments, where graduates can develop a different perspective, which can be shared with others to continuously improve our offering or service.

Working with training providers or inspirational thought-leaders we can deliver training that is relevant, interactive and can influence behaviours. We collaborate with organisations such as RADA to help develop confidence and presentation skills, coaches who develop self-awareness, which is essential for leadership, and host a series of regular events with inspirational speakers. 

In 2010 we launched our Future Leaders programme, which is open to all our account managers, and tailored to develop the skills and behaviours we have identified for our future talent.

Jenny Healy is head of talent development, Mindshare

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